HL Deb 18 June 1900 vol 84 cc264-6


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, this is a Bill to enable burial authorities to provide and maintain places and necessary appliances for cremation. There are several safeguards introduced in the Bill. In the first place, the plans of places for cremation must be approved by the Secretary of State, who must also approve of all the bye-laws to be made under this Bill, and after having approved of them he may at any time require them to be submitted to him for revision or modification. It is proposed in the Bill that the bye-laws shall prescribe in what cases, in what mode, and under what conditions cremation may take place, and may prescribe the forms of the certificates and declarations to be given or made before cremation is permitted to take place. Clause 6 provides penalties for a breach of the bye-laws; Clause 7 deals with fees, which are to be approved by the Secretary of State; and the last clause provides that the Act shall not interfere with the jurisdiction of any coroners under the Coroners Act, 1887, or any Act amending the same, nor authorise the Burial Board or other local authority to create or permit a nuisance. The principle of cremation has been sanctioned over and over again by the Legislature, and all that this Bill proposes to do is to enable burial authorities to raise rates for the purpose of cremation without having to go to Parliament for a private Act. If no question of rating is involved cremation is perfectly legal at present. The principle of burning the bodies of dead persons is certainly gaining ground in public favour. The corporations of Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Hull have already obtained private Acts giving them powers to provide and maintain places for the carrying out of cremation, and at the present moment the corporation of the City of London have a Bill before your Lordships' House in which they ask for similar powers. I am informed that the revenue from cremations is steadily increasing, so much so that the Cremation Society now possesses a moderate surplus. I have been asked whether the Act is intended to apply to Scotland or Ireland. As the Bill at present stands, I think it would not so apply, because it merely amends the Burial Acts, and I am unable to discover any Burial Acts which apply to Scotland or Ireland of the kind dealt with in this Bill. But if it is thought better I will, in Committee, consent to an Amendment taking Scotland and Ireland specifically out of the purview of the Bill. The Bill is supported by the London County Council and is not treated by them as a party matter, both parties having approved of its principle.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Lord Monkswell.)


This Bill raises very serious questions, and involves some considerations which may be local and some which are of a wide general character. I do not rise to oppose the Bill. On the contrary, it seems to me that this is a question on which there-ought to be some general law to regulate cremations, whether carried out by private-Act or not; and in any Act passed on the subject, of course it would be understood that, being an Act of general operation, it would overrule those cremation Acts which have already been obtained. All the provisions of this Bill will have to be very carefully considered.

On Question, agreed to. Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the whole House.

House adjourned at Five of the clock, till To-morrow, a quarter past Four of the clock.